Posts Tagged 'power'

Daily Disciplines for the Christian Life: Admit Your Need

Daily Disciplines for the Christian Life: Admit Your Need

John 15:1-9

Every year, we remember what God does for us, from the beginning of the plan (Jesus’ arrival in Bethlehem) to the end (His return). Through it all, we see the example that Jesus gives as He lived. As we move through Advent, this year we’ll be looking at specific steps that will help us live the Christian life every day.

Have you found the Christian life to be frustrating? Try saying “I can’t…”

Parts of Your First Step

* Produce Produce! ~ John 15:1-2

  • We are EXPECTED to bear fruit! But HOW? Three possible ways to do this:
  • Plan A. keep the Law; (spoiler alert: doesn’t work)
  • Plan B. cling to grace/justification by faith (because plan A doesn’t work), or
  • Plan C. mix A and B (which is just A repackaged)

* Profess Powerlessness! ~ John 15:3-6

  • 3 Jesus’ word cleanses us (like a branch end must be clean to be grafted)
  • 4 focus is US being IN Jesus, not Jesus being IN us! Difference? We are to come into HIS presence; we enter into HIS Kingdom; HE CALLS THE SHOTS IN HIS OWN HOME
  • 5 this means we are powerless; (cf Matt. 5.6 abject poverty of spirit)
  • 6 look at the difference: a branch on its own has no life CANNOT bear fruit; a branch connected to the Vine has life (but not its own) – and THAT Life makes us able to produce!

* Persist and Preserve! ~ John 15:6-9

  • 7 “and my words remain” far too often, Christians focus on “ask whatever”, and forget the necessity of REMAINING in Christ and RETAINING His Word
  • 8 Farmers: how do you KNOW when a crop is ready for harvest? Don’t you INSPECT the fruit? We give ribbons at the county fair for brag-worthy crops; that’s our goal, too: to be blue-ribbon servants all for God’s glory (GOD is the Grower; we’re the Grafted)
  • 9 Don’t just visit: STAY because of LOVE

You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability… (Deuteronomy 8:17-18a)

Apply step 1: Dear Father, I come to You today to acknowledge that I am powerless. I am fundamentally powerless – period! I am also powerless over the effects of my separation from You. Apart from Your intervention in my life today, I do not have the ability to be Yours.

Autumn Thoughts: Let Go Of Lording It

Let Go Of Lording It

Luke 22:24-38

On my trip this week, I shared my name with many people that I met. I shared my bank information with far fewer people. I mentioned my hometown, but I didn’t give my exact address. There are lots of ways to identify yourself. Did you know about IP addresses? Unique identifiers to the whole of the internet, so that each individual computer can talk to all the others.

I’ve come up with four I.P. instructions that might help us in living our faith in ways that Jesus wants us to live.

What Are My Spiritual I.P. Instructions?

* Invert Power ~ Luke 22:24-27

We are not to exercise power like the world; instead we serve one another. I asked you two weeks ago: WHO DO YOU UNCOMFORTABLY SERVE? Let me follow up on that question: WHY do you serve THOSE YOU CHOOSE?

* Inherit Position ~ Luke 22:28-30

Jesus places us into His Kingdom; it’s all about WHO you know. Ask yourself: do I know Jesus? Or do I just know **about** the Christ? What steps do you need to take to grow deeper in your relationship with the Lord?

* Invoke Protection ~ Luke 22:31-34

.Jesus prays for Peter. Did you know that Jesus prays for YOU? NOW? Hebrews 7:25 says, “Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.” And Romans 8:34 reads, “Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died– more than that, who was raised to life– is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOU KNEW THAT JESUS WAS PRAYING FOR YOU RIGHT NOW?

* Immediate Promise ~ Luke 22:35-38

Jesus reminds His followers that God provides for what God requires of them. WHAT MAKES US THINK HE’S STOPPED THIS PROCESS? DO YOU TRUST HIM OR NOT? WHY?

Haggai 2:5 ‘This is what I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt. And my Spirit remains among you. Do not fear.’

We try to usurp Christ as Lord out of fear: fear that we won’t get what we want if we surrender to what HE wants.

Snapshots from Mark: Properness of Power

Snapshots from Mark: Properness of Power Sermon Audio Here

Mark 10:35-45

I watched a CAPTIVATING mini-series on History Channel, The Men Who Built America. One of the conflicts described the competition for bringing electricity to the American people. Which standard would be used? Direct Current (DC) or Alternating Current (AC)? I found it telling that the men involved in trying to bring power to the masses used their own personal power to bring about THEIR will. Their choices were less about what was good for the people, and more about what was best for THEM.

How Does Power Work in God’s Kingdom?

The Process of Preparation ~ Mark 10:35-40

  • 35/36 admission: how often do WE do this same thing? Try to take advantage of our relationship with Jesus to get Him to do what WE want?
  • 37 they want power; no ifs ands or buts
  • 38 Jesus response ISN’T AUTOMATICALLY “no”; instead, He asks if they’ve counted the cost
  • 39 they haven’t
  • 40 “fitness, and not influence, decides…it consists of service, and he who serves most is greatest, a greatness already determined by the service, and not to be changed by any personal equation.” (International Critical Commentary on Mark, pg. 201, Ezra Gould) THOUGHT: the places are prepared for the people… AND the people are prepared for the places. Both the Master AND the servant are at work here.

The Inverse of Authority ~ Mark 10:41-45

  • 41/42 Were the disciples mad because of what James & John did… or because they didn’t think of it first? Jesus sets them straight about authority
  • 43/44 servant=deacon/waiter vs doulos/slave; servant implies freedom to choose (you may serve, or not); SLAVE means exactly that, even with all it’s ugly-to-us history. A SLAVE has no choice to serve, because they are OWNED by the master
  • 45 Jesus sets the example: HE gave up His right to be Master to show us how to be Slaves for God. John 15:15 – Jesus elevates us from Slave to Friend… but we do not lose our doulos status.

Remember our Job passage? Where were you, O human, when God put the universe together?

Answer: we were NOT. We had no power, no ability, no authority… no EXISTENCE. The bottom line: If Jesus is your Lord, YOU are His SLAVE. Time to ask ourselves: are we serving Christ, or our idea of Christ? James & John wanted power and influence, but they didn’t know the cost. The ACTUAL cost? ALL of you, ALL the time.

Pentecost: The Breath of God

Pentecost: The Breath of God Sermon Audio Here

1 Cor. 12:3-13

I recently heard an advertisement for hyperbaric oxygen chamber treatment: sit in a pressurized tank and breathe oxygen. Studies show mixed results… but what about a SPIRITUAL hyperbaric experience?

What Difference Did Pentecost Make?

We Are “Christ-Crafted” ~ 1 Cor. 12:3-6

  • v3 truth is truth, but spiritual truth is from the Spirit about Christ
  • v4 The Spirit gives as HE chooses, not us
  • v5 Lots of ways to serve the Lord; not all the same
  • v6 working=the effect of God’s energizing action in us; our outcomes won’t all look the same, but they’ll be spiritual, and they’ll point to Jesus in us
You Are Carefully Crafted By God; Remember Your Worth!

We Are “Air-Powered” ~ 1 Cor. 12:7-11

  • v7 2 things: EVERYONE is gifted; EVERYONE benefits
  • v8 wisdom: knows just what to say;
    • knowledge: insight from the Spirit down to us (God’s viewpoint)
  • v9 faith: trusting faith (by context, more than just saving faith);
    • gifts of healings: isolated incidents (not “the power to heal”, but the healings themselves)
      NOTE: these gifts are not RESIDENT SUPERPOWERS; more like sunlight reflecting from a mirror; the SPIRIT is at work, and uses US to make that work available;
      CHARISMATA =”the presence of that which is given”
  • v10 miraculous: ENERGEMATA=”the presence of the power that is sent”; WE don’t do miracles; GOD does miracles, and sometimes uses people;
    • prophecy helps us understand: a prophet receives a specific message from the Lord and delivers it;
    • a miracle worker receives a specific ability to do a task from the Lord and does it;
    • distinguishing: God gives the insight if something is HIS or not; varieties of speech (like Pentecost),
    • the ability to understand them tied to the presence of the Spirit, not the person through whom the language happens
  • v11 The Spirit chooses; we don’t (this means the Spirit isn’t some impersonal “force”
You Are Powered By the Spirit; Remember Your Charge!

We Are “Fire-Welded” ~ 1 Cor. 12:12-13

  • v12 Trinitarian nod; cf. Gen 1:1,2; Deut 6:4 God is ONE COMMUNITY; we belong together to God
  • v13 our origins are different, our circumstances are different, but our connection and destination are the same: we are ONE in the Spirit
You Are Connected to Christ; Remember Your Identity!

Epiphany: Upside-down Power

Epiphany: Upside-down Power Sermon Audio Here

BIBLEREFERENCE

We have different ways to describe “power”. Sometimes we mean force: the amount of energy needed to accomplish a task. Sometimes we mean flow: the transmission of energy from one point to another. Sometimes we mean influence: the ability to get someone to do something. We know how electrical power works (AC/DC); but what about God’s power?

Powerful Points to Ponder:

Our Ability Falls Short of God’s Glory ~ 1 Cor. 1:18-25

  • v18/19 reminder: God’s ways are NOT ours
  • v20/21 God’s choice: we can’t figure out God on our own on purpose!
  • v22/23 Jews can’t accept Messiah as Sacrifice (seen as Conqueror); Greeks can’t accept Christ’s Sacrifice because it means admitting that human wisdom is insufficient for salvation
  • v24/25 Christ’s power through submission to God’s plan; Christ’s wisdom through acceptance of God’s terms

Our Inability Shows God’s Grace ~ 1 Cor. 1:26-31

  • v26/27 who we are isn’t that important for God’s use
  • v28/29 God uses the uncomplicated so HE gets the glory
  • v30/31 our Inability just shows of HIS ability to make Himself known through us

Consider this: sand is opaque (you can’t see through it); when exposed to extreme heat, it reforms and becomes transparent. It’s got the same ingredients, but the internal change makes all the difference.

Micah 6:8 ~ He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

Human power is the personal application of influence to control behavior; God’s power isn’t wielded, it’s yielded to. We don’t EXERCISE God’s power; we submit to it (obedience leads to God’s powerful presence in us).

Human wisdom is the learned beneficial application of knowledge; God’s wisdom isn’t learned, it’s received. We don’t WORK for God’s Wisdom; we accept it (as a gift).

The Ancient of Days Today

The Ancient of Days Today Sermon Audio Here


The Ancient of Digital Days | by greenwise art

Daniel 7:9-14

Today is Christ The King Sunday; but WHY? CtK Sunday was formed because secular governments try to assert authority over the Church.

Why Look to the Ancient of Days for Guidance Today?

He is The Source of Sovereignty
Daniel 7:9-14

  • v9 look @ attributes: white=pure wisdom; fire=strong authority
  • v10/12 God has the right to judge, and He will do so
  • v13/14 Jews would interpret this as a sign of Israel’s supremacy; God will keep the King forever;
  • in other words, the Ancient of Days knows what He is doing by virtue of His wisdom and authority

He is the Answer for Authority
John 18:33-37

  • v33 Pilate asks a GOOD question: who do you rule, Jesus?
  • v34/35 next good question: what have you done, Jesus?
  • v36 Jesus’ kingdom NOT of this world; what is our response?
  • v37 everyone on side of truth listens to Jesus; what side are you on?

Pope Pius the Eleventh said that if Jesus is actually LORD, then all of our lives must be affected:

  • He must reign in our minds – we submit to His word
  • He must reign in our wills – we obey His word
  • He must reign in our hearts – we love God above all else
  • He must reign in our bodies – we live as instruments of justice for God

Highlights from Hebrews: The Power of the Blood

Highlights from Hebrews: The Power of the Blood Sermon Audio Here


Hebrews 9:11-14

Do you want to be free from sin’s weight? Do you want to conquer evil? Do you want to win the struggle you fight inside everyday? Do you want to know HOW to do these things? Look at the Cross!

The Blood Has Power Because

It Is Perfect From The Start

  • v11 more perfect= a completed sign; miracle made manifest NOT by humanity

It Is Parity For Both God And Humanity

  • v12 by his own blood; the perfect balance of holy God and frail humanity; cf. Rom. 6:23 wage is paid for work; Jesus work was SINLESS, enabling Him to be our priest AND sacrifice

It Points To God’s Plan

  • v13 blood+ashes=callback to old sacrificial system (num.19); only works symbolically

It Is Potent Enough For ALL

  • v14 Jesus’ sacrifice NOT outwardly symbolic, but inwardly effective! The Blood shall NEVER lose its POWER!
  • That is why Communion isn’t a re-sacrifice of Christ, but a remembrance of what He has already done.

When we sin, we often focus on the sin itself; our inability to get it right. Some of us do this often, and some not so much. But we are ALL lost because of our sin. When we focus on the sin itself, we are trapped by it; but when we focus on the BLOOD that covers our sin, we are reminded that Jesus has perfectly paid our penalty!


Pastor Ed Backell

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